Whenever any applicant for financial assistance under this subchapter is dissatisfied because the Secretary has made a determination not to award financial assistance in whole or in part to such applicant, the applicant may request a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Labor. A similar hearing may also be requested by any recipient for whom a corrective action has been required or a sanction has been imposed by the Secretary under section 3244 of this title.
The decision of the administrative law judge shall constitute final action by the Secretary unless, within 20 days after receipt of the decision of the administrative law judge, a party dissatisfied with the decision or any part of the decision has filed exceptions with the Secretary specifically identifying the procedure, fact, law, or policy to which exception is taken. Any exception not specifically urged during the 20-day period shall be deemed to have been waived. After the 20-day period the decision of the administrative law judge shall become the final decision of the Secretary unless the Secretary, within 30 days after such filing, notifies the parties that the case involved has been accepted for review.
Any case accepted for review by the Secretary under subsection (b) shall be decided within 180 days after such acceptance. If the case is not decided within the 180-day period, the decision of the administrative law judge shall become the final decision of the Secretary at the end of the 180-day period.